(Click On The Bracket To See Results)
We always knew something would mix up the Senate Sweeps competition, but we definitely didn’t expect a government shutdown. The chaos in congress has pushed a new set of Senators to the forefront; major players like Ted Cruz and Harry Reid have shot up in the rank, overshadowing other prominent Senators like John McCain and Ron Wyden. Here are some lessons from our first week:
The Senators Involved in the Shutdown Are Getting a Lot of Attention
Ted Cruz moved to #1 in our custom rank this week– not surprising, since he often acts as the face of the passionately anti-Obamacare faction of the Senate. Joining him is Rand Paul and Mike Lee, both prominent anti-Obamacare Senators. These Senators have seen the biggest jumps in rank in in the wake of the government shutdown. On the Democratic side, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have seen jumps thanks to their savvy social media teams playing up their ideological opposition to the shutdown. Finally, Harry Reid’s role as the face of the Democratic Party during the shutdown has pushed him to new heights in our custom rank.
Publicity Needs A Social Media Follow Up
Traditional media coverage almost always leads to more social media engagement – but Senators that know when to take advantage of it get much better results. Senator Durbin, despite being one of the most prominent Democrats in the shutdown fight, lost to Senator McCaskill’s superior social media team. Politicians can get a base level of social media coverage, but they have to invest in it to fully see the gains.
The Biggest Upsets of the Week
Jeff Sessions beats Lindsey Graham: Three weeks ago when the Syria issue was under intense debate, Lindsey Graham and John McCain were seeded highly. With the government shutdown taking all of the oxygen out of the Syria issue, Jeff Sessions’ position as the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee pushed him up enough to overtake Senator Graham in a surprise upset.
Barbara Mikulski beats Kay Hagan: Another case of the government shutdown propelling one Senator to the top. Mikulski acts as the chairwoman of the Appropriations committee, giving her an outsized voice during the shutdown that Senator Hagan was never able to overcome.
Ted Cruz takes a solid #1 Rank while McCain falls to 11: Whether or not you agree with Ted Cruz, his role in the defund Obamacare fight and government shutdown has captured the attention of social media users. John McCain, frequently the most effective social media user in the Senate, has fallen in rank since the beginning of the shutdown. The big question is whether Senator Cruz be able to translate his social media presence into permanent influence like Senator McCain was able to after 2008.
Round 2, focusing entirely on Facebook, will begin today. We will be tracking Facebook likes, comments, and “talking abouts” (a measure of interaction with a page after liking it), among others. Big questions for the following week: how long will the shutdown last? Will new Senators step up in light of inertia in the House? How will the fast-approaching debt ceiling limit change the equation? Check back to see how your bracket is doing as the weeks go on.